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Meet the offense-heavy Wake Forest Demon Deacons

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Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

How to watch or listen to the game

Tip time: 2 p.m. ET, Saturday, Jan. 20

TV: ACC Network (Evan Lepler, Cory Alexander)

Online streamingWatchESPN

Radio: Wolfpack Sports Network (affiliates)

Wake Forest vitals

Record: 11-7 (2-4)
Pomeroy ranking: 38
Best win***: 96-79 over Miami (No. 34 in Pomeroy Ratings)
Worst loss***: 73-68 to Clemson (No. 33 in Pomeroy Ratings)

(***Based on opponent's Pomeroy Rating, not margin of victory/defeat.)

Adjusted tempo: 70.5 poss/40 minutes (ranks 104th)
Adjusted offensive efficiency: 118.2 (ranks 18th)
Adjusted defensive efficiency: 101.9 (ranks 128th)

Wake roster
Wake schedule
Wake stats 20162017

The Wake offense and starters

WF Offense -- Four Factors eFG% TO% OR% FT Rate
2016-17 overall (nat'l rank) 54.5 (41) 18.1 (110) 31.6 (113) 37.0 (131)
2016-17 ACC only (ACC rank) 52.4 (7) 17.8 (7) 28.4 (11) 36.8 (5)

Understandably, it's taken some time for Danny Manning to clear the enormous pile of crap from Lawrence Joel Coliseum that was left behind by Jeff Bzdelik. Wake Forest won a total of seven ACC games in his first two seasons, but here in year three, it looks like the Deacs are taking a legitimate step forward. They've matched last season's win total in conference play and they have been competitive against top-35 teams like Xavier, Northwestern, and UNC.

The reason for the overall improvement lies entirely at the offensive end, where Wake has gone from No. 132 in offensive efficiency last season to No. 18 this year. The defense, meanwhile, has stagnated, dropping one spot in defensive efficiency.

Wake is shooting the ball better across the board and ranks among the top 25 in free throw shooting percentage and three-point shooting percentage. Last season was a year of growing pains for a really young group, and now as sophomores and juniors, they're beginning to put it together. Well, offensively, at least.

Big man John Collins' emergence as the leader of the offense as sophomore has been crucial, and it sure did make quick memory of Devin Thomas. Collins is already one of the top post threats in the ACC, averaging 16 and 9 a night on 59.5% shooting in the paint.

At any given time, Wake Forest can surround Collins with four guys shooting at least 35% from beyond the arc, so you begin to see why the Deacs have become a much more difficult matchup this season. Last year's Deacs did not have near the perimeter shooting depth that this team has.

Starters

Bryant Crawford (6-3, 200) -- Crawford is much more efficient this season, which is a good thing since he's maintaining the same high workload he had in 2016. He's improved from 43.4% on twos as a freshman to 52.1% as a sophomore and has also cut down on turnovers. His assist rate ranks 21st nationally.

Keyshawn Woods (6-3, 205) -- Charlotte fans must be wondering how good they'd be if Torin Dorn and Woods were still around. Woods is a career 45.7% three-point shooter, and he hits more than half of his twos as well. Dude is a heck of a shooter, and not a bad passer, either.

Austin Arians (6-6, 230) -- Arians, a grad transfer from Milwaukee, has been content thus far with a reduced role that has him serving as a three-point specialist and not doing much else. He is hitting 43.2% from deep.

Dinos Mitoglou (6-10, 255) -- The Greek Deac is about the same as he ever was: solid shooter, solid rebounder, decent shot blocker, a little turnover prone--y'know just kinda all-around useful, but unspectacular.

John Collins (6-10, 235) -- Collins will deserve heavy consideration for first-team All-ACC if he continues at this current pace of production. He's not only shooting nearly 60%, he's grabbing tons of boards (20th nationally in OR%, 59th in DR%), blocking a lot of shots (76th in block rate), and drawing a whole heap of fouls (15th in fouls drawn per 40 minutes). In other words, dude is a monster in the paint. The only thing slowing him down is the fact that he's foul prone.

The Wake bench and defense

Reserves: Mitchell Wilbekin (6-2, 175), Brandon Childress (6-0, 190), Doral Moore (7-1, 265), Greg McClinton (6-7, 200). Wilbekin is shooting 42.4% from three and 28.2% inside the arc, which is not exactly out of character. NC State will probably manage to screw up defending him anyway.

Childress is also fighting the short guy struggle inside the arc but has been decent (34.9%) from three. Moore and McClinton are unlikely to contribute much scoring but they have a lot of fouls to give and are quite charitable about handing them out.

WF Defense -- Four Factors eFG% TO% OR% FT Rate
2016-17 overall (nat'l rank) 51.1 (205) 17.1 (281) 28.7 (131) 34.4 (158)
2016-17 ACC only (ACC rank) 53.0 (10) 15.3 (15) 27.3 (4) 42.5 (15)

Manning hasn't been able to find a solution at this end of the floor, and this year at least, there probably isn't one. The Deacs just rely too much on guards to effectively defend the paint; defensive rebounding aside, Wake's interior defense has been one of the worst in the ACC. ACC foes are making 53.5% of their twos. They've been more foul prone in ACC games and force turnovers at the league's lowest rate. Hard to succeed on a regular basis with numbers like these.

Fortunately for them, they can score with anybody.

The Pomeroy Predictor likes Wake by 2.